Are Handles Or Knobs Right For Your Kitchen Cabinets?

It can be really satisfying to add the finishing touches to new drawers and cupboards when you've revamped a tired kitchen or designed a brand-new one, and hardware is usually the final choice that ties together the entire design. Your main options will be handles or knobs, and both have their benefits when it comes to aesthetics. Ornate knob designs add personality to plain kitchens, while smaller plain knobs can act to complement bold style choices in your kitchen as they're less likely to draw attention away from more attractive features that should be the focus. Handles tend to have a more modern look, and they are perfect for large, contemporary kitchens where there may be more activity.

But choosing your hardware isn't necessarily all about what looks good. When it comes down to it, your cabinets should be as functional as possible. Here are some of the pros and cons of handles vs. knobs so that you can make the right choice for your kitchen.

When to use cabinet handles

When considering comfort and functionality, pull handles seem to be the most ergonomic for quick, easy, and safe activity in the kitchen. They're better suited to lower cupboards with more resistance or sliding drawers that pull out, as they offer a firm and easy grip. The fact that handles and pulls are typically easier to grasp than knobs makes them the more sensible choice for older people who may struggle with weakness in their hands or arms due to arthritis or loss of muscle. 

Pulls also cut down on the amount of contact hands have with the actual cabinets, helping to keep cupboard doors clean. This may be a useful selling point for families with mucky kids or professionals who have less time for housekeeping.

While it can be difficult to achieve personality when flat metal handles seem to be the practical option, that doesn't have to be the case. Opting for more traditional or intricate styles ticks both boxes. 

When to use cabinet knobs

Knobs can be the quirky choice when it comes to decorating cabinets, adding tons of character to your kitchen, especially in small kitchens where eccentric pieces can be made into a design focal point. It's fun and affordable to pick up unusual antique knobs from flea markets or vintage stores. On the other hand, because knobs are typically smaller in size, their appearance is often more understated than handles and pulls. This means that trendy backsplashes or stunning cabinetry can take center stage when you go for small and simple knobs instead. 

If you're looking for convenience, these are easier to install, usually with just one screw. They also tend to be the cheaper option than handles. However, remember practicality; steer clear of small knobs if you have large or heavy cabinets. Michelle Lisac, founder and principal designer of Michelle Lisac Interior Design, points out that pulls are "especially nice if your cabinet fronts are on the larger end and you need a bit more leverage to open them" (via Domino). Generally, knobs work better when fixed to elevated cabinets – if you'd prefer to mix and match, you can create harmony by keeping handles on lower cupboards and drawers.